The maximum pleasure that coincides with the maximum pain. This is the main theme of the horror series “Hellraiser”. The protagonists of the various chapters are looking for a key to obtaining extreme pleasure, and they become aware of the existence of a mysterious device, in the shape of a box, which can open a door to another spiritual dimension. In this dimension a coven of spirits, called Supplizianti or Cenobites, control the soul of the victim offering him the maximum pleasure and at the same time the maximum pain. Those who cross the threshold of pleasure cannot pull back in time to avoid the burden of pain that comes after, and so they find themselves torn to pieces, kidnapped in a kind of eternal torture chamber. Only with the suffering of other victims will the kidnapped be able to find a body of flesh, blood and bones and come back to life, to continue paying his debt of pleasure to the Supplizianti. The debt will never be extinguished, of course, because as soon as anyone has crossed the threshold is now a slave to desire.
Hellraiser’s idea coincides with the pleasure-pain combination that is found in psychiatry in two related syndromes, namely bipolar disorder and addictions. Euphoria, spontaneous or induced by substances or situations, is usually a credit to the brain, which is spent gradually and periodically renewed. It can be said that in normal things one can proceed with a credit of fuel given by the gratification already had, or by the promise of what one will have. The problem arises when the euphoria is very intense or rapid, because in this case the brain spends the excess of euphoria by buying it “in debt”, as when taking out a loan for an object that cannot be paid in cash. That debt will correspond, afterwards to a feeling of boredom, lack of stimuli or loss of a level of euphoria without which nothing seems more viable. In jargon, this affective state is called “hypo-phoria”, which means “having a bad time” compared to a condition of happiness experienced before, which left a hole, a crater. The person will therefore look for more and more intense pleasures, strong to fill the void and return to the crest of the wave. Unfortunately, for the same starting mechanism, he settles the first debt at the price of a second, even more burdensome.
The fate of untreated bipolar disorder is in fact that of starting with euphoric phases and ending with a chronically dissatisfied, eager but disheartened mood, far from a reality of gratification but instead obsessed with the idea of ​​regaining lost energy and stimuli.
The same happens to those who use substances and become addicted to them, that is to remain a slave to the idea of ​​having the charge or happiness from a substance, but seeing this pleasure vanish into thin air too soon or even immediately after consuming the substance. Desire grows, pleasure darkens more and more. Eventually, the only way to evoke pleasure becomes something extremely intense, but for this very reason extremely risky, unstable and “explosive”. Many people who apparently love the risk or seem devoted to self-destruction, actually try to be extremely gratified in a direct and powerful way. In other words, it’s like keeping a fireplace burning using gunpowder or gasoline. Or like trying to light up a room by shooting fireworks.
It is curious how pain itself is the other side of pleasure, biologically. The system on which, for example, opiates such as heroin act is the same that normally performs an analgesic function as well. Painful stimuli, or physical exertion, or mechanical stresses in general produce a release of “internal” morphines that buffer the pain but can at the same time produce a pleasant sensation. Producing pain therefore becomes a way to stimulate the systems that induce pleasure, and this naturally makes harm coincide dangerously with pleasure.
The Supplizianti, who have the appearance of men in sadomasochistic clothing, carry wounds or mutilations on them. The head, “Pinhead”, has a head that is a sort of pincushion, with geometrically positioned needles. They are the priests of pleasure, who try to extract it first from their own pain, then from that of others. They are dark figures, with a flat expression. So does the subject addicted to euphoria, who in order to obtain an increasingly difficult euphoria uses his own body by shaking it, shaking it, urging it and damaging it, until damage and orgasm seem part of the same confused experience. And in this whirlwind, happiness is extinguished more and more. So do bipolar subjects, who in an attempt to chase away depression try to reproduce the euphoric “mania”,
The therapies in these disorders try to reduce the craving, to avoid new euphoric phases in which the debt of gratification increases, but this immediately means a depression, perhaps attenuated but persistent for some time, as an intermediate phase between the illness and the return. to a real, everyday pleasure, with a lower threshold and the ability to enjoy “on credit”. The Supplizianti are the metaphor of the attachment that people with a history of euphoric phases have for the euphoria they have felt, willing even after years to risk everything again in order to try again to cross the threshold of pleasure absolute.

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